Category Archives: fantasy

The Dragon’s Tooth by ND Wilson

Word Lily review

The Dragon’s Tooth by N.D. Wilson, Ashtown Burials book 1 (Random House Children’s Books, 2011), 496 pages

DragonsTooth

Summary
Cyrus and his sister, Antigone, live at an old, rundown roadside motel with their college-aged brother. They have since their dad died and something happened to their mom (leaving her institutionalized). They practically live on waffles. And then an old man comes and insists on renting the specific room that is now Cyrus’s. When he shows up, things get interesting, to say the least.

Thoughts
I had heard good things about N.D. Wilson’s books from various trusted sources, but mostly I’d only picked up vague shadows. Most of what I’d heard, though, was about 100 Cupboards or at least that series. I am so very glad I read this one, though.

Wilson’s writing is superb. The prose thrilled me. Here’s the first two paragraphs:

“North of Mexico, south of Canada, and not too far west of the freshwater sea called Lake Michigan, in a place where cows polka-dot hills and men are serious about cheese, there is a lady on a pole.

“The Lady is an archer, pale and posing twenty feet in the air above a potholed parking lot. Her frozen bow is drawn with an arrow ready to fly, and her long, muscular legs glint in the late-afternoon sun. Behind her, dark clouds jostle on the horizon, and she quivers slightly in the warm breeze ahead of the coming storm. She has been hanging in the air with her bow drawn since the summer of 1962, when the parking lot was black and fresh, and the Archer Motel had guests. In those days, the Lady hadn’t been pale; she had been golden. And every night as the sun had set, her limbs had flickered and crackled with neon, and hundreds of slow cars and sputtering trucks had traveled her narrow road, passing beneath her glow. When young, she had aimed over the road, over the trees, toward Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Now, thanks to the nuzzling of a forgotten eighteen-wheeler, her glow has gone and she leans back, patiently cocking her arrow toward the sky, waiting to ambush the clouds.”

Isn’t that excellent? And the story’s pretty great, too. I don’t want to give spoilers, but aspects of this book reminded me of Diagon Alley — how right under the noses of the oblivious, magical things live and transpire. Not that this is any kind of a rip-off. The Dragon’s Tooth struck me as a wholly original story. Not that I’m well-versed enough in the genre to know such a thing. (Sheesh. Maybe it’s time for me to wrap this up and go do something else.)

Cyrus is a really great character in the ways that matter most. Intriguing, relatable, flawed. Actually, all the characters are pretty well drawn. Even the villains are nuanced and maybe even likable.

Isn’t it always thrilling to “discover” an author with a backlist? I’m excited to read the next one in this series, The Drowned Vault, and the third one (Empire of Bones) comes out this fall. (Besides reading his older books.)

… And I also feel the need, more strongly than ever now, to read Diana Wynne Jones. In fact, maybe I need to go on a long middle grade and YA fantasy reading tear?

Rating: 4.75 stars

Other reviews
Charlotte’s Library
Pages Unbound
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Lilith by George MacDonald

lilithOnce upon a time, several years ago, when Amy and I made lists of books for ourselves and each other to read, there was one joint read on that list. Finally, at the end of 2012, we read it! That book? Lilith by George MacDonald (1895).

I think part of my motivation to read it stemmed from Hutchmoot that year, either the assigned reading leading up to it or something stated at the actual event. I read a couple other MacDonald books, and I quite liked them. (Phantastes (which I never got around to reviewing, but I took copious notes about) and At the Back of the North Wind)

My expectations going into this book were pretty high, I think, which ended up being a problem (as it so often is).

I found some bright spots in this story. The beginning was good, it started off well and my excitement continued to rise.

Several vignettes I quite liked. But as a whole, I didn’t really love it. For a very short book (236 pages in this edition), it took me nearly two weeks to get through, if I remember correctly.

I liked how MacDonald took the concept of growth (spiritual, emotional, whatever) and made it physically visible. That was kinda neat. But such a small piece of the story, it seemed. And there’s this dangerous area of the world/landscape that, at night, is filled with dangerous monsters, but certain characters simply *had* safe passage because of some aspect of their character, while others acted as a shield to a group. It was a really beautiful image, I thought, how that was worked out.

Now the not-so-good stuff. I really feel like the tagline :: A Romance is realllllllly misleading. I mean, there is a romance, and a Romance, I guess, but.

It read partly as allegory, but as soon as I decided what various characters were, it would totally fall apart. I never really felt like I understood fully what was going on. Some things I never figured out at all. This was a big one.

I seem to have such trouble finding nice (as in, not horribly done) versions of old books like this. Maybe I should just decide that just because there are cheap editions of books like this, doesn’t mean I should buy those ones. This edition wasn’t horrible, but I do think it detracted from my personal potential enjoyment of the story.

Lots of people love this book, but I wasn’t one of them. Maybe from now on I’ll stick to MacDonald’s works for young readers.

Here’s My Friend Amy’s post about Lilith.

Have you read it, or any of MacDonald’s work? What did you think?

I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Book Spotlight: Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

About the book:
Rose Red trusts no one with her secret. She hides in the forest, her face veiled in rags, shunning the company of all except her father and her nanny goat. And then she meets a privileged young man sent to the mountains for the summer. Leo befriends Rose Red, and together they begin hunting for the rumored Mountain Monster.

This is book 2 in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series, which I’ve been drawn to since I first saw them. I’ve heard good buzz, but I can’t find too many links now.

Read an excerpt of Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl.

Here’s a review of the first book, Heartless:
Books, Movies and Chinese Food

I received this book from the publisher as part of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

CFBA Book Spotlight: The Gift by Bryan Litfin

The Gift by Bryan LitfinAbout the book:
The Chiveis Trilogy takes readers hundreds of years into the future. War and disease have destroyed civilization as we know it. Much technology has been discarded and history is forgotten. Slowly, the few survivors have begun to build new communities, and kingdoms now prosper in a kind of feudal order. The Word of God has been lost for centuries.

After an Old Testament is discovered in book 1 of the trilogy, The Gift picks up the story with Teo and Ana. Exiled from their homeland and trying to survive in unknown and dangerous lands, they search for any record of the missing Testament. Their journeys lead them into the region we know as Italy. An elite society welcomes Ana, who finds she must choose between her new life and her dream of returning to Chiveis.

To read the first chapter of The Gift, go HERE.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher as part of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Sunday bullets

• I’m afraid I’m becoming a weekend blogger. Since my husband started his new full-time job at the beginning of the month, basically all of my [scant] posts have been composed and scheduled over the weekends. Which doesn’t really make sense, because when it’s the weekend, he’s home! Why am I blogging then?

• I’ve only rarely (and never really long-term) been in the position of staying home while my husband goes off to a full-time, off-site job, so this is mostly new to me, and I’m (we’re) still adjusting. I’ve yet to find a routine that works. It’s not that I don’t have responsibilities; I do. I work part-time from home, and I’m in the process of starting something else that will hopefully bring in some income. This in addition to tasks around the house. It’s certainly not a matter of not having anything to fill my days — by no means!

• I’m starting to think / realize that although I enjoy reading fantasy, I rarely like the covers. In fact, they’re usually turn offs. Why is that, I wonder?

• I’m excited about a few fiber arts ideas I have. I think I may have even figured out a small bridge between my bookish pursuits and my fiber!

• This post isn’t really going anywhere, sorry.

• I might finally finish Middlemarch this week. I’ve been getting 30 or so pages read a day pretty reliably, and I’ve got less than 200 pages left. Hooray!

I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

The Charlatan’s Boy by Jonathan Rogers

Word Lily review

The Charlatan’s Boy: A Novel by Jonathan Rogers (Waterbrook, October 5, 2010), 320 pages

Summary
Grady (no last name, just Grady) lives on the road, playing his part in Floyd’s scheme of the moment. (His favorite role: He-Feechie, of the Feechiefen Swamp.) It’s the only life Grady’s ever known. But questions niggle; where did he come from? what were his parents like?

Thoughts
Disclaimer: I met author Jonathan Rogers at Hutchmoot, although I don’t think I had an actual conversation with him. He did a reading from this book.

A really fun, imaginative tale. I love the simultaneous Southern and English feel of the story. It’s labeled as a young adult story, but I’d say it could go middle grade, pretty easily.

Grady is a great character, very sympathetic. So very earnest, too.

It’s written in dialect, which can sometimes be annoying or feel off, but in this case it just adds to the (swampy, thick) atmosphere.

This book is published by a Christian publishing house, but it’s not one of those books that really center on the Christian life. It does, however, focus on big questions — Who am I? Why am I here? Where did I come from?

I quite enjoyed this book. The story and the telling itself are both fun, engaging. I’d almost say heartwarming too, but it’s not sticky sweet, not at all. This is one of those books I can recommend to anyone.

Oh, one more thing: While this book is definitely fantasy, the story is so down to earth, relatable, it transcends that label.

About the author
Jonathan Rogers is the author of The Wilderking Trilogy (The Bark of the Bog Owl, The Secret of the Swamp King, and The Way of the Wilderking) as well as a (more scholarly, I assume) book on Saint Patrick. He’s also among the Rabbit Room contributors.

Other reviews
A Christian Worldview of Fiction
My Friend Amy
Whispers of (a new) Dawn
Shannon McDermott
Sarah Sawyer
Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

I received this book from the publisher. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Winner of Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

The winner of a signed copy of Tyger Tyger: A Goblin Wars Book by Kersten Hamilton is:

Lemon123

I’ve emailed Lemon to get her mailing address. Congratulations!


I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Giveaway: Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

I posted my review of Tyger Tyger: A Goblin Wars Book by Kersten Hamilton [my review — I loved it!] on Monday, and today I’m thrilled to offer you the chance to win an autographed copy of the book as part of the blog tour! (U.S. only, though.)

To enter this giveaway, leave a comment on my review expressing interest in winning and interacting with the review. (One entry per person.) I’ll accept entries through Thursday, November 18, 2010.

Edited to add: This giveaway is now closed. See who won.

I received this book from the publisher, as part of a Winsome Media blog tour. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.